Last week Friday marked the last day of the spring semester. To celebrate, I usually bake up some treats for my international students in part to share a little American culinary culture with them and in part to prove to them that I really do know how to make my own food. Each semester, without fail, my students at some point ask me what I usually eat and then express great amazement and surprise when I tell them that, no, I don’t eat burgers and pizza every day and that yes, I do cook for myself.
In any case, last Thursday night as I was in the midst of grading final essays, I remembered that I need to make said end-of-semester treat. I consulted my trusted recipe box and found a number of gems – Grandma’s Ginger Snaps, Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Velvet Lunch Cake – but none seemed to fit the bill for my 10 am class. But then, there it was – Apple Kuchen. Perfect!
I hadn’t had Apple Kuchen in ages. For a while, Grandma used to make it for us every Sunday and bring it over when she and Grandpa came over to help milk in the morning. We were supposed to wait until after church to eat it, but I’m not so sure that always happened. I’m pretty sure some after chores / pre-church taste-testing went on. But see, I think that’s why Grandma often brought over two pans of the stuff – one for after milking and one for after church. I’m sure Dad would argue that one was for him and one was for the rest of us, but I think we all know the real aims of Grandma’s generosity.
After sharing this treat with my students, I think it’s reasonable to say that Grandma’s legacy has extended beyond the Ruesch family and has a certain amount of international appeal. This recipe certainly does justice to my students’ perceptions that American food is extremely sweet. I’m sure some of them thought this was a little too sweet, but probably the same number of them would gobble up another piece if given the opportunity.
2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 c. milk
apples (I used 3 small apples)
1 c. sugar
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Cut shortening into dry ingredients until mix is dry and crumbly. Blend egg and milk together. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Spread dough in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Peel and cut apples into slices. Place apples on top and press slightly into top of dough. Sprinkle 1 c. sugar over apples.
4 Tbsp flour
6 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over sugar and apples. Bake at 375º for 30 mins or until apples are done.
May be served with whipped cream (very good without)*
*This last line of the recipe is an important one. I’m not sure if it’s because we ate the kuchen before Grandma had time to whip the cream, but I don’t recall ever eating apple kuchen with whipped cream. I’m sure it’s good, but Grandma knows best – it’s very good without.